Along with players, coaches of football teams in Cyprus will now have the chance to use the app called Red Button, which can be used to file anonymous reports in a bid to combat the phenomenon of match-fixing.
On Thursday, Justice Minister Giorgos Savvides chaired a meeting regarding the latest developments in the scandal with representatives from the police, the Cyprus Football Association (CFA), the footballers’ association (Pasp) and the referees’ association.
During the meeting it was decided that, after players from second division team Othellos used the app to report their suspicions that their game against Ayia Napa had been rigged, coaches should have the same access to it.
The report received from Red Button led to the arrest of the Ayia Napa chairman, former referee and player agent Demetris Masias and referee Andreas Constantinou on February 8.
Masias was accused of attempting to bribe players from Othellos €10,000 to lose the game, as he and Constantinou were remanded in custody for eight days on Wednesday.
This was the first arrest made thanks to a report filed through Red Button and Pasp chairman Spyros Neophytides, the driving force behind the introduction of the new system in Cyprus, is hoping that players will now feel more encouraged to report on suspect situations.
“Since Red Button was implemented on February 5, we have received more than 20 reports, which led to two arrests, it’s a great result and it shows that the app has great potential.”
Neophytides said Red Button is able to ensure the players’ anonymity, an issue that has prevented them to report match-fixing suspicions in the past.
“Each player who is a member of Pasp has been given a unique code, strictly private, with which he can access the app to send his report.
“The report goes directly to the company that runs Red Button, which is based in Finland. They will send the reports to the authorities, who will then proceed with the investigations.
“The players will be able submit their reports anonymously, provided they have their unique code, which is the only personal information that the company in Finland and the authorities will have.
“No one will be able to trace their identities, as the code used to submit the report is only known to the individual player. This way, his identity is completely protected.”
“Should the authorities deem it necessary to open a file on a report they received, the player would be able to prove his plausible deniability by showing the code he used to file that specific complaint,” assured Neophytides.
The worldwide representative organisation for professional footballers FIFPRO developed Red Button with the Finnish players’ association in 2016, in order to help players report their match-fixing suspicions anonymously.
First implemented in Finland, the Red Button app is also available to players in New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland.
The system has been approved by Interpol, the international police organisation.
“So far, Red Button could only be used through a website,” Neophytides said. “Cyprus will be the first country to introduce the app.
“We are making progress in our fight against football corruption, but the road to clean up the game is still very long, we are only at the beginning.
After the meeting finished, Savvides said “the government is making significant strides in the fight against match-fixing and corruption in Cyprus.”
“Thanks to Red Button, we now have more information coming our way regarding the issue. This will help us achieve consistent results in our investigations and bring to justice those who are taking advantage of a shameful situation.”